Alembic – Definition & Meaning

Alembic is a term that is often used in chemistry and alchemy, but many people are unfamiliar with its meaning and origin. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of alembic, as well as its associations, synonyms, and antonyms.


An alembic is a device used for distilling liquids. It consists of a vessel with a long, narrow neck and a condenser that cools and condenses the vapor produced by heating the liquid. Alembics were commonly used in alchemy to separate and purify substances.
In broader terms, alembic can also refer to any process of purification or refinement, whether physical, mental, or spiritual.


The word alembic comes from the Arabic word al-anbiq, which means “the still.” The Arabic word was borrowed into Latin as alembicum, and from there into English as alembic.
The use of alembics in alchemy dates back to ancient times, with some sources suggesting that the Egyptians and Greeks used similar devices for distillation.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to Merriam-Webster, alembic is “a still consisting of two vessels connected by a tube, used for distilling liquids.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a vessel with a beaked cap or head, formerly used for distilling, esp. in alchemy.”


Alembics are often associated with alchemy, the ancient practice of transmuting base metals into gold and achieving spiritual enlightenment. In alchemy, the alembic was seen as a symbol of the process of purifying the soul and achieving spiritual transformation.
In modern times, alembics are primarily associated with chemistry and distillation, and are used in industries such as pharmaceuticals, perfumery, and flavorings.


Synonyms for alembic include still, distiller, retort, and condenser.


Antonyms for alembic include impure, unrefined, and contaminated.

The same root words

The root word for alembic is al-anbiq in Arabic. Other words derived from the same root include ambik, which means “an alembic” in Hindi, and ambix, which means “a cup or beaker” in Latin.

Example Sentences

  1. The alchemist used an alembic to distill the essence of the plant.
  2. The perfume was made using an alembic to extract the essential oils.
  3. The process of meditation is like an alembic, purifying the mind and spirit.
  4. The scientist used a modern alembic to separate the different components of the mixture.
  5. The alembic was a symbol of transformation and purification in alchemy.
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